I just spent 2 weeks in Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada side, and I must admit that despite the lack of shoulder in some areas around the lake, and a relatively heavy traffic, compared to say, Columbus Highway, NM, but still far better than San Francisco. I was very impressed by the courtesy of the drivers. They slowed down when passing. They gave at the very least the 3 feet they are legally required to give us. And, they waited when it was not safe to pass. What a treat.
Back in El Paso, Texas, and just a total of 5h on the bike this weekend. Yesterday was a nice little ride around Anthony Gap, up Transmountain Road East, and today an easy out and back on NM 28. These roads are far less traveled than around Lake Tahoe. They also see far less cyclists, even though our community is growing. However, they do see their fair share of pretty angry drivers who seem to believe that:
1. We do not belong on the road;
2. We should ride only on bike paths or on the sidewalk;
3. We should definitely get out of their way because they sure ain’t slowin’ down.
And probably another long list of beliefs related to wearing lycra, riding little bicycles, and pretending to be professional bike racers.
I’m not going to address this long list of beliefs: they’re entitled to them, regardless of how stupid they are. However, we have the right to be on the road (yes, we pay taxes, and yes, believe it or not Mr Big Truck, most of us actually own cars, some of us even have trucks! Crazy eh?) However, ‘nonuvya’ wheels belong in the bike lane when there is one.
But anyway, let’s go to the main point. Today, someone passed me very close after honking a couple of times. It was a really shiny red truck. I’m guessing its owner is someone extremely important because when he passed, he said ‘get off the road you [long list of expletives that lacked both wit and style] you’re slowing everyone down here!’
Yep, indeed! The road looks busy on this picture. I’m sorry I slowed you down for your very critical heart surgery you were about to perform to save someone’s life. But even if it were the case, let’s do some quick math here. And for the sake of the argument, I’ll look at the worst case scenario. Let’s assume that I wasn’t a 142lb rider, riding on his own, but in a group of 30 traveling at 20mph (typical on this road during the weekend). And let’s assume that you’re really important so you’re going 60mph, a full 10mph above the speed limit (you know your shiny red truck is allowed to do this because it’s red and shiny, and you’re a heart surgeon, duh!) And let’s assume it takes you a whole 1/2mi to pass the group. I’m really looking at the worst case scenario as you can see. The 20mph group will travel 1/2mi in 1min30. You would travel the 1/2mi in 30secs (at 10mph above the speed limit). So, you’ve actually lost: 60 seconds. Just one little minute. You didn’t lose 10min, or an hour. Just one minute. Today, you waited about 2secs to let that other car coming in the other direction go through. 2 seconds! So the question is this: was that very important heart surgery enough to justify potentially injuring (or killing) someone?
Is your time (the few seconds you need to pass a group of cyclist) really more precious than life? Food for thought Mr Shiny Red Truck…